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July 13, 2020

National health insurance plan needed to reduce burden on people

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) pose a major health challenge for Myanmar.
We have managed to reduce cases of communicable diseases by a certain extent, but non-communicable diseases are hindering Myanmar’s economic growth and plans for sustainable development.
The four major groups of NCDs — cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes — account for over 80 per cent of all NCD-related deaths and share the same four major risk factors: tobacco use, alcohol abuse, unhealthy diet, and physical inactivity.
Despite growing global interest in NCDs, progress has been insufficient as countries with limited resources struggle with weak health systems and poor national capacities, including technical expertise, research capacity, and surveillance and program evaluation data.
The number of cancer patients has been rising in our country. Hence, the Ministry of Health and Sports is doing research on reducing non-communicable diseases.
Meanwhile, it has been found that the budget allocation for health and sports for the 2019-2020 fiscal year is just 3.6 per cent of the total budget of the Union. There are seven departments under the Ministry of Health and Sports. The Medical Services Department used about 58.7 per cent of the ministry’s budget, while the sports department got just 2 per cent.
This shows that we are spending much of the ministry’s budget on medical services and there is weakness in our healthcare system when it comes to disease prevention through physical activity and fitness. At the same time, people are spending 80 per cent of their income on health, while hospitals and clinics do not have sufficient medicines for patients.
Hospitals in townships are facing a shortage of vaccines, such as anti-venom and rabies vaccines, and human resource, which is putting a burden on the people and leading to misunderstanding among the people.
This comes from the weakness of our healthcare system.
The situation demands a national health insurance system to reduce the burden on the country and the people.
It is worth noting that the Ministry of Health and Sports is working on drafting a national health insurance bill.
The Hluttaw Health, Sports and Culture Committee is collaborating with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) on cancer research. The results from the research would be helpful for our healthcare system.
We are confident that a national health insurance system would relieve the healthcare burden on the people and provide them with access to affordable essential medicines and vaccines for NCDs.

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